Going to the Dentist never filled me with fear despite filling me with fillings. As much as I loved chocolate, I also loved stickers, and every time I braved the chair, I got a big shiny sticker to put on my school jumper so I could go back to school (another bonus – a couple of hours off!) and show off to all how brave I was. At 36, it’s nice to say that my teeth still look amazing. But I’m lying when I do.
And so to sticker rewards. A popular form of carrot waving to make kids do what you want them to do. Our eldest is still not having dry nights all of the time, so we decided to make up a sticker sheet to ‘encourage’ him to hold it in until morning. I drew a picture of a sleeping boy, bought a sheet of stickers and set up a rule that if there was a dry night, we could put one sticker on the boy’s duvet. I explained that if he got 10 stickers, I’d get him something special; and if he got 20 stickers, I’d get him something even specialer. He seemed genuinely excited and we went to bed feeling really good about this.
The first morning – success! A dry night! The second morning – success again! Wow! This is brilliant. The third morning – ah, well, no matter – just a blip, let’s try again tomorrow. The fourth morning – ah, okay, don’t worry. The fifth – nope. The sixth – nope, again. But this time, the bas…tyke went and put a sticker on the sheet while no one was looking!
And so it has gone on. Small successes. Some stickers decorating the duvet. Some of them genuinely earned. Perhaps it’s our fault for not fully committing to it, but the novelty for him wore off pretty quickly. Perhaps we should let nature take it’s course and not worry about these things. Part of me thinks that sticker rewards deflect from the self-satisfaction of doing something independently – the pride of making it to the toilet by yourself is enough and that a sticker distracts from that. I’m not sure. What do you think?